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EU: Employment, Social Policy and Health Ministerial Meeting

Volume 684: debated on Monday 17 July 2006

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Plaskitt) has made the following Statement.

The Employment, Social Policy and Health informal meeting was held on 6 to 7 July in Helsinki, Finland. My honourable friends the Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Service (Jim Fitzpatrick) and the Minister for Health Services (Rosie Winterton) and I represented the UK.

The theme of the informal was to look at the challenges of globalisation and demographic ageing. The workshops were divided into three parallel groups. My honourable friend Jim Fitzpatrick participated in the workshop on productivity and quality of working life and focused on the UK experience and strategy for promoting high performance in the workplace as set out in Success at Work. I represented the workshop on prolonging working life for men and women and highlighted the Government's plans to extend working life through pension reform and measures to help people to stay in work and to balance their caring responsibilities.

My honourable friend Rosie Winterton spoke about the health, work and well-being strategy and emphasised the message that work is good for health, especially mental health, in the workshop looking at how to promote health in the workplace.

The presidency drew conclusions from the three workshops and said that it had seen a consensus that the ageing population raised clear challenges, which could best be met by shared objectives for employment, social and health policies. This could include flexicurity, effective social protection and consistent action on health. The flexibility needed to embrace social change should include action on work-life balance, gender equality, lifelong learning and health and safety to make work more attractive and increase productivity. Social partners and civil society must be fully engaged. All actions should be tailored to the needs of women and men.